The Community Against Preventable Injuries

The Community Against Preventable Injuries

November 23, 2009 18:57 ET

The Community Against Preventable Injuries: Avoid Unintentional Poisoning

Poisonings are the third leading cause of preventable injury death in B.C.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 23, 2009) - Poisonings are the third leading cause of preventable injury death in British Columbia. Many of these incidents, whether it's incorrectly mixing medications or ingesting poisonous substances, are unintentional and preventable.

The Community Against Preventable Injuries (The Community) and its partners are reminding British Columbians to be conscious of the medications and dangerous chemicals in their homes.

"Everyone – not just seniors – must be aware of what medications they are taking, especially during the cold and flu season. They should talk to their pharmacist to find out if the medications can be taken together and that there are no harmful side effects," said John Tse, vice president, pharmacy and cosmetics, for London Drugs. "And always read the label to ensure you're taking the correct medication."

As part of the initiative to create awareness, The Community is placing signs on store shelves in more than 40 Canada Safeway, Price Smart, and Save-On Foods stores in late November advising customers about the dangers of unintentional poisoning.

Poisonous substances range from household cleaners and cosmetics to laundry products and pesticides. Medicines (prescription and non-prescription) are especially harmful when ingested by children. The most common "poisons" affecting children are cough/cold medicines, pain and fever medicine, plants and cleaners.

"Places where unintentional poisonings occur are usually where the substances are stored, such as the kitchen, bathroom and garage. People can be poisoned through ingestion, inhalation, and exposure to skin or eyes," said Dr. Ian Pike, spokesperson for The Community. "We also ask parents to keep medication out of their children's reach and to supervise children when poisonous substances are being used."

At least one child in our province is poisoned every hour, according to the B.C. Drug and Poison Information Centre (DPIC), and overall, more than 20,000 British Columbians are affected annually. The Community encourages everyone to take the appropriate measures to prevent unintentional poisoning. If you have a question, contact the B.C. Poison Control Centre at 1.800.567.8911.

The Community is a grassroots organization established to raise awareness, transform attitudes and behaviours, and ultimately drive down the number and severity of preventable injuries in B.C.

For more information about The Community and its campaign, please visit

To set up interviews, please contact Gina Vesnaver or Dixon Tam via the contact information listed at the end of this press release.


  • Poisoning affects more than 20,000 British Columbians each year and more than half are children less than six years old (Drug and Poison Information Centre (DPIC), 2009)
  • Poisoning is the third leading cause of preventable death injury (DPIC)
  • Each year more than 80 British Columbian children aged 1 to 4 years are hospitalized due to poisoning (BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU), 2009)
  • Every hour at least one child in British Columbia is poisoned (DPIC, 2008)
  • The most common "poisons" involving children are cough/cold medicines, pain and fever medicine, plants and cleaners (DPIC, 2008)
  • Poisonings cost British Columbians $216 million each year in both direct and indirect cost (Economic Burden of Injury in Canada, 2009)
  • There are more than 250 deaths in British Columbia per year due to poisoning (BCIRPU, 2009)
  • Other causes that lead to poisoning related injury among adults include mis-doses of medications, mixing cleaners, putting chemicals in food and beverage containers

Factors that increase the risk for poisoning among children:

  • Products and medications left within a child's reach
  • Presence of children while doing household chores
  • Leaving children unsupervised Source: DPIC, 2007


  • Use childproof latches on cupboards and keep medications and other chemicals, including cleaning products, in child-resistant bottles and containers
  • If a poisonous substance is ingested, immediately contact the poison control centre (call 1-800-567-8911). Do not induce vomiting – this is rarely required and may worsen the situation
  • Teach your children the basics of poison prevention
    • STOP when you see a container, don't touch
    • LOOK for a hazard symbol
    • STAY SAFE – go get a grown-up
  • Supervision is critical. When using cleaning products, never let young children out of your sight
  • Clean up party leftovers: cigarette butts and leftover food, beer, wine and other drinks can be poisonous to a small child, even if consumed in small quantities
  • Get your home tested for hazards such as lead – toys may have lead in them


  • Ensure all medications are labelled properly
  • Do not mix medications – contact your pharmacist for more information
  • Read the packaging carefully and the warnings regarding the acceptable dose, given the age of the person. Don't exceed the acceptable dosage
  • Encourage proper storage and disposal of poisonous substances
  • Know your hazard symbols
  • Read labels on your plants – some plants can be poisonous
  • If the person is unconscious, having convulsions, or having trouble breathing, call 911. For all other poisoning situations, call the BC Poison Control Centre at 1-800-567-8911 immediately

Contact Information

  • Contemporary Communications
    Gina Vesnaver
    Media Contact
    Contemporary Communications
    Dixon Tam
    Media Contact